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Beautiful old Lakefield canoe - serial number

Discussion in 'Traditional All-Wood Construction' started by VallierOutdoors, Dec 24, 2013.

  1. VallierOutdoors

    VallierOutdoors Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hi all - I've got a question about a beautiful antique Lakefield wooden canoe. I've looked around here and seen very little discussion of these canoes. Also found the Dragonfly page on Lakefield. Unfortunately, everything I've read sheds no light on this serial number - "2-21" on one line and "16" on another. See photo. It is a 16' all-wood cedar strip canoe. Many narrow ribs. Very tiny keel (maybe 1/2" at thickest). According to the Dragonfly table, a varnished cedar strip canoe like this should have a serial number in the 140s, The #2 should be a painted, iron-fastened basswood rib/batten canoe. If it were #21, it should be a 15' copper-fastened rib/batten canoe. It is neither of these, and there is no #221 listed.

    Same issue (serial number doesn't match information available) in an old thread here:

    Does someone out there know what serial numbers like this mean?

    - Jim

    Attached Files:

  2. Graham

    Graham Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Mine doesn't have a match on the Dragonfly chart either, so I'm not sure if it is model/serial or vice versa. The bottom line is definitely the length (16). A model number ending in 3 seems to correspond to a 16 footer also. So I suspect it is serial/model over length. It would be nice to find 113 as a model number some day to prove it (longitudinal strip).

    I have a list of other thwart block numbers I've seen, I'll have to dig it up.

    And I'll let you know if I find more info.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 25, 2013
  3. OP

    VallierOutdoors Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Here's the serial number posted by Paul Waque back in 2011. It's "18 24", a 16' cedar strip canoe - another number that doesn't match anything written. His conversation also met a dead end after he posted the serial number. Paul, if you're out there did you ever learn anything more?

    Attached Files:

  4. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    You are possibly confusing serial numbers with model numbers. Model numbers, if so stamped would of course identify the model of the canoe. Serial numbers are going to be unique to each canoe, and in the absence of company records, usually do not tell us anything.

    The reason you are not getting much in the way of responses is simply a lack of information, at least on my part. I have a photocopy of a catalog that someone dated to circa 1910 (the source of the Dragonfly information), and then nothing until the late 1950s. Ken Solway reprinted excerpts of what he called a 1915 Lakefield catalog in his book - the model numbers are the same as I posted. I have no idea what changes may have been made to their model numbering in the intervening time. Ephemera from the Lakefield companies is quite scarce.
  5. OP

    VallierOutdoors Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Yes, I believed that the lack of response was because little was known. There are very few threads here on all-wood Lakefield canoes. Here is the only other one I could find:

    He says that his canoe is 15' 6" canoe is marked "0 277 over 151 over 2". Looks like it should be model 142.

    I now realize that I made a mistake in my original post - I didn't mean to say the "serial number" should be such and such. I meant "model number". Of course model numbers and serial numbers aren't the same thing. The confusing statement in my first post was written after reading this from Dick Persson in a previous thread about Lakefield canoes: "It is a very good possibility that your canoe is a model 143, ordered with the peaked deck or torpedo deck as it often also were called. Check again for a serial/model number." I was still thinking of that when I mistakenly wrote "serial number", and didn't realize my mistake until now (thanks for the heads-up, Dan). In any case, maybe some makers could have stamped model numbers on their canoes, but it seems clear that in this small collection of Lakefield canoes, stamped numbers don't include model numbers. To clarify, my hope is that after gathering these numbers in one place someone might recognize a pattern to them. It's a small set (4 canoes so far), but maybe???

    2-21 16 ........ Lakefield Torpedo varnished cedarstrip
    18 113 16 ....... Lakefield varnished cedarstrip (model 143 ? )
    18 24 16 ........ Lakefield varnished cedarstrip with Torpedo-style decks (model 143 ? )
    0 277 151 2 ... Lakefield varnished cedarstrip (model 142 ? )

    Thanks again for the feedback, Dan.
  6. Kathryn Klos

    Kathryn Klos squirrel whisperer

    Thanks for posting the question about your canoe, Jim. This is how we learn about these rare ones! And now this much more will be available to the next person... because we *hope* there are more out there.

    If you'd care to post some over-all pictures of the canoe... well, images of beautiful canoes are a way some of us cope with cold and snow.

  7. Paul Waqué

    Paul Waqué Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    The canoe that I have with a torpedo deck has measurements that are close to the 143 model even though it seems to be stamped 18 24 and 16. So according to Dan the 1824 is a serial number. The son of the original owner new it as a racing canoe, but it seems too wide and has a shallow arch cross-section below the water line.

    What cane model is yours similar to based on measurements? Can you post more pictures of it, including the brass thwart tags and bow decal? The picture that you have seems to show a canoe in very good condition.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2013
  8. Graham

    Graham Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Good info. Since pictures are always helpful, here's a couple shots of 18 113. Roughly 16x31x12.

    That 151 2 makes sense as a 15 1/2 footer.

    Attached Files:

  9. Graham

    Graham Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Couple more identifying features. Seeing Dicks copy of the 143 ad from the 1918 catalogue... it sure seems to be a close match.

    Attached Files:

  10. OP

    VallierOutdoors Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Finally - here are some pictures of the Lakefield that started this. It's got its original finish. Never had any work done at all. Needs a good cleaning which I started but more to come.

    Attached Files:

  11. OP

    VallierOutdoors Curious about Wooden Canoes

  12. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    That canoe is not in their showroom, so you may or may not get an answer back. It may not even be available anymore.

  13. Adrian Pearce

    Adrian Pearce Canoeist and restorer

    Hi Jim,
    Thanks for raising the question of Lakefield's and their age. I begged the question a while ago about mine (Stickland design) that I was reonvating Lakefield finiished 093.jpg and had no answers. On the thwart blocks, midship, I just have engraved 141/2, and yes she it that with a 28 inch internal beam making her fast but tender. Under the decks and thwarts I have 2-17. Like you I could not make the link with the Dragonfly table. All I know is the she was purchased in the London Harrods store in 1925.

    Finished Lakefield.jpg Lakefield launch.jpg Lakefield launch.jpg ]
  14. Graham

    Graham Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes

    Thought you might enjoy this 1911 ad for a Lakefield 10 footer.

    Attached Files:

  15. Adrian Pearce

    Adrian Pearce Canoeist and restorer

    Many thanks Graham. The advert starts to throw light on how The Lakefield Company worked in the industry. I know they had an office just west of London for the importation of canoes.
    I have seen a couple of Lakefields for sale on Ebay, one at 17ft and the other at 16ft. It would be great to uncover a Pewee!
    Thanks again
  16. OP

    VallierOutdoors Curious about Wooden Canoes

    Hi Adrian,

    Your canoe is very nice. Looks like it was very nicely restored. What is the wood of the decks? Looks good. So yours has "2-17" under the decks and thwarts... Is it under all of them? Is it stamped into the wood or written in pencil? The Canadian companies at least sometimes nested canoes that were shipped overseas, so I wonder if only those nested had numbers under decks and thwarts (these would have been removed to nest the canoes). I'll have to check mine to see if it's marked the same as yours or not (I'm in USA).

  17. Dick Persson

    Dick Persson Canoe builder & restorer

    Unfortunately no serial number or work order records have survived from the various “Lakefield Canoe Co” entities. The company changed name and owners many times and their practises and format of the stamped numbers changed over time.

    I’ve been researching the Lakefield companies for some time; this is what I know about their serial numbers, for the lack of a better word.

    1904 – 1911 Lakefield Canoe & Mfg. Co.
    1911 – 1919 Lakefield Canoe Co. Ltd
    1919 – 1938 Lakefield Canoe & Boat Co. Limited
    1939 – 1948 Lakefield Boat & Manufacturing Co.
    1948 – 1962 Lakefield Boats Limited
    1962 – 1967 Rilco Industries

    The first three companies listed above, stamped a “serial number” in the thwart blocks. The last three stamped the stem and Rilco Industries stamped both the stem and a metal deck plate.

    For example: the stampings on the thwart blocks may look like the following formats;

    0–31/16 or 2–890/14 ½ or 17/16 or 654/15 or see image thwart block formats.jpg

    The easy one; the digits on the second line are the length of the canoe as most of you already figured out.

    The lone digit on the first line before the hyphen might refer to the hull style, i.e. “Gordon”, “Strickland”, “Racing” etc. (I am still researching)

    The two or three digits after the hyphen are likely the number of canoes built that year.

    The freestanding two or three digits on the first line are also likely the number of canoes built that year.

    Dick Persson
    Buckhorn Canoe Company
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2014
  18. MackyM

    MackyM LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Then my Richardson is a descendant of Lakefield?
  19. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    Yes indeed!
  20. Dick Persson

    Dick Persson Canoe builder & restorer

    Yes Macky,

    In January 1962 Rilco Industries Limited was established in Lakefield with Jack Richardson, the former GM of the then defunct Peterborough Canoe Co., as GM.

    The new company purchased Lakefield Boats Ltd. Included in the purchase was also the rights and forms to continue building the well-known line of Lakefield cedar strip boats and canoes.

    Under the trademarks Lakefield Boats and Richardson Aqua-Craft the company produced two lines of pleasure crafts from cedar-strip and canvas covered canoes to motorboats and also sailboats in cedar-strip construction, lapstrake and molded plywood.

    The company lasted until the fall of 1967. Its assets were auctioned off in early 1968.

    Dick Persson
    Buckhorn Canoe Company

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